I have accused others of being Pollyannas for their prophesying of ahistorical sea-changes in human nature based on innovations in communications technologies. (“E-commerce will eliminate poverty,” “Blogging will replace journalism,” etc.) But I have to admit to a certain amount of it myself. At one point I conceived the following project.
The Open Source Israel-Palestine Peace Plan
Since the “professionals” in Israel/Palestine are having a continuing lack of success at creating a workable peace plan that both will follow, why not give it to the people themselves, on both sides of the divide?
What I mean is, we create an “The Open Source Israel-Palestine Peace Plan.”
We set up a wiki and invite people (emphasizing Israelis and Palestinians) to create their own collaborative peace plan. Different people could work on various issues like borders, trade, right of return, etc. We could invite some scholars and academics with specialties to augment the citizen involvement.
We can get Socialtext or Wikipedia to host it. We can get buy in from groups like Global Voices Online, Jordan Planet, the Palestine Blogs Aggregator, Bitter Lemons and so forth. We can secure sponsorship from different companies and media organizations. That sponsorship could be used to stage three events: a launch conference, a mid-point conference for working groups and a public unveiling of the finished plan.
Would it produce a workable peace plan? I doubt it, but who knows? At any rate, it would be an interesting discussion. It might provide new ideas that would solve specific problems in creating a workable peace. It would certainly exert a strong pressure on both Palestinian and Israeli leaders to revisit the issues. They could hardly fail to respond to the implicit accusation that a bunch of mere citizens was able to craft a peace plan where they could not.
Nothing came of it, unfortunately, except for Ross Mayfield donating an account. (The Israeli and Palestinian I tried to press into service had other things to do, shockingly enough.) But I remain, I guess, a little bit of a gullible idealist because I still think it’s an awfully good idea.